178 South Korean Darkweb Users Arrested on Suspicion of Crypto-powered Drug Trading
Police in Seoul, South Korea, have arrested 178 people on suspicion of buying and selling drugs online using cryptoassets as a means of payment.
According to JTBC, Seoul Metropolitan Police officers said they had arrested 12 suspected drug dealers and 166 of their alleged customers, stating that the individuals had all made use of darkweb portals and crypto payments.
The officers also stated that they had seized tokens, some USD 8,500 worth of cash, 12kg of marijuana, and significant amounts of drugs such as synthetic cannabinoids, ketamine, and MDMA (ecstasy).
A number of the drug payments appear to have been carried out in bitcoin (BTC), and the vast majority of alleged drug buyers were described as being in their 20s and 30s – although a small number of individuals were aged 40-59.
The officers explained that the individuals had all made use of a darkweb platform that allowed would-be dealers to post for free, but demanded 10% commission on all transactions – which were paid in crypto and carried out through the platform.
While the traders have been identified, the darkweb platform operators have thus far eluded capture.
Police officers stated that the platform made use of darkweb technology, cryptoassets, and messaging platforms such as Telegram, making it a natural choice for younger individuals – and less of a draw for older people.
And officers warned:
“Young people with high levels of internet literacy can easily buy narcotics online. But while they may think they leave no trace of their actions if they buy narcotics using cryptoassets, this isn’t the case. We have launched a dedicated investigation team and offenders will eventually be caught.”
Like many other East Asian nations, South Korea has extremely tight narcotics laws. The police force has recently established a unit named the Darkweb and Cryptosset Special Investigation Team.
Officers also indicated that they believe that some darkweb-related individuals may have links to some of Seoul’s busiest night spots.
Per Newsis, a spokesperson pledged to “identify darkweb operators” and “expand” the police’s “investigation” – as well as investigate “whether or not these operators are related to major clubs and entertainment establishments in Seoul.”